EDITORIAL: INTRODUCTION TO PENCAMBRIA NUMBER 40 Spring 2019
Do you ever feel that some divine harvest is being gathered? Firstly, two friends and a close family member, yes the Celtic triplet, all intimately associated with PenCambria, have departed this life in the last half year. Diana Brown left us last August, Jim French slipped quietly away in the New Year and Pedro, the dog whose exploits were integral to the life of the retired lady and gentleman from Llawr-y-glyn in the long running series Put Out To Grass also hung up his lead earlier this year. Added to these, one of our greatest supporters Lady Shirley Hooson passed away just under a year ago and two of us said good bye to our husbands in the past four months: another Celtic trio, this time of our supporters. Empty, shell-shocked, these hardly describe feeling at the moment. However, in the general run of things, nature abhors a vacuum, so when a space becomes vacant, we can usually hope for it to be filled sooner or later and, while this issue is full of familiar faces, there are glimmers on the horizon of new writers, and hence new and different interests to come. Tributes to both Jim and Pedro appear in the pages of this issue.
In the meantime, we begin this edition with the first part of a biographical sketch of the First Lord Davies of Llandinam. This is part of the booklet A Biographical Sketch of David Davies (Topsawyer) 1818-1890 and his Grandson David Davies (1st Baron Davies) 1880–1944 by Peter Lewis, part one of which detailing the life of David Davies, Top Sawyer, appeared in the last edition of PenCambria.
Building on the initiative by the RCAHMW and Jim French’s article in the last PenCambria, Norma Allen has been investigating place names in the Llandinam area. This is project in which we could all take part, so if you feel like finding out about the place names and history or any stories behind them, do please get in touch and let us know what you have found. The RCAHMW are also very keen to know what has been found in you area too, so if you want to get in touch with them, contact details can be found further on in this magazine.
Brian Poole has been tackling the Caersws Smithfield and has come up with some very interesting information as well as some wonderful archive photographs. Andrew Dakin describes the long march of his family back to Llanidloes. Lawrence Johnson is back on the uplands of Plylumon among the remnants of lost communities there.
Glove making was one of those essential trades in centuries gone by that, apart from gardening gloves and woolly mitts for the winter, we scarcely consider these days. Jim French’s final article, which amazingly he made sure he completed before his death, is a search for the glove makers of Llanidloes and fascinating reading it makes too. Bruce Mawdesley in one of his exquisitely written pen portraits, remembers Old Morty. Her memory jogged by the tribute to her friend Lady Shirley Hooson, Gwyneth Garner relates a few of her own war-time memories, hopefully the first of many such recollections. In Andrew Dakin’s article Tales From the Footplate: Tylwch in PC37, he mentioned a tragic accident that happened in 1883. Derek Savage sent me the newspaper article detailing this accident, which I have reprinted here and I do hope you will forgive me including the gory details.
Wales is above all a land of thwarted ambitions and especially so after the death of Llywelyn ab Gruffudd, the only native Welsh declared Prince Of Wales, who was assassinated in 1282. Two other princes followed in his footsteps in the following century: Owain Glyndwr at the end of the 14th century but 30 years before that came Owain of Wales, also known as Owain Lawgoch, and it is his story, facts, myths and legends that I have included in this issue.
Michael Apichela, as part of his love affair with Wales provides an insight into the mining connections between Wales and Pennsylvania.
The renovation of the barn in Wales Arts starts the year with a new, more intimate space for exhibition, workshops and performances. Last year the RCAHMW highlighted a monument on Moel y Golfa in north Montgomeryshire, commemorating the Romani Chell, or leader, Ernest Burton, and there is also an update on their project regarding the place names in Wales.
Lots of goodies in the Dragon’s Crypt. Diana Ashworth turns her talent to fiction this time with a tale all about the dangers of tunnelling, with enchanting illustration by Wendy Wigley; Julia R Francis has a poem all about the first day; Norma Allen whets our appetite with Apple Crumble and Custard and Chris Barrett, also in a lighter frame of mind, has some entertaining thoughts on life in general. Good Reading to you all Gay Roberts.
CONTENTS OF PENCAMBRIA 40
First Lord Davies of Llandinam, Part one Peter Lewis
Musings on some Welsh Place Names in the Llandinam Area Norma Allen
The Caersws Smithfield Brian Poole
Tumbled Worlds Lawrence Johnson
A Long March Home Andrew Dakin
Was there ever a Glove Making Industry in Llanidloes? Jim French
Old Morty Bruce Mawdesley
Accident at Tylwch – report from the Montgomeryshire Express
The Prince of Wales over the Water Gay Roberts
Love in Wales Michael Apichela
The Master of his Fate – Jim French 1946-2019 Gay Roberts
R.I.P. Pedro Diana Ashworth
Mid Wales Arts – news
Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historic Monuments of Wales – updates
In the Dragons Crypt
Where The Wild Garlic Grows Diana Ashworth
Day One – poem by Julia R. Francis
Apple Crumble and Custard Norma Allen
Comedies : some reflections on life Chris Barrett
Time is Running Out for the Pangolin Zoe Spencer
MUSINGS ON SOME WELSH PLACE NAMES IN THE LLANDINAM AREA by Norma Allen
Although I was born and brought up in Wales, I am not a Welsh speaker and I take note of the warning published by the Ordnance Survey in their ‘Welsh Origins of Place Names in Britain’:-
‘There are many pitfalls for the unwary, attempting to understand place names and indulging in the indiscriminate, uninformed and naïve interpretation of elements on the basis of the place names as they appear today.’
Therefore, I apologise in advance for any inaccuracies that have come about in my attempt to understand and to reflect on some of the place names in the area.
Many towns and villages in Wales with names beginning with ‘Llan’ are named after the patron saint who founded them –– Llan is generally accepted as meaning church, or the area around the church –– although other interpretations suggest it might mean an enclosure, settlement or even village green. The Llan is followed by the saint’s name, for example, Llanidloes after Saint Idloes and Llangurig after Saint Curig. This is by no means always the case though; Llandrindod Wells, for example, is named after the Trinity (Y Drindod in Welsh). Other towns beginning with Llan have no church connections. Llandaff, despite its cathedral, is named after the River Taff.
Llandinam is also one of the exceptions. The settlement is said to have been founded by the sixth century Saint Llonio, with the parish church being named after him. One might therefore expect the village to be called Llanllonio rather than Llandinam. ‘Dinam’ is often interpreted as meaning ‘without a fault’ but B Bennet Rowlands believes that it more likely to mean ‘the church of the fortress’ as it was partly built of stone obtained from the ruins of the ancient city of Caersws and could be the old name of the iron age hill fort Cefn Carnedd (‘Cefn’, ridge, ‘Carnedd’, heap of stones), the remains of which are found on a hill on the western edge of the village. He cites the Rev C.K. Hartshorne who stated that in his opinion Cefn Carnedd could well have been the true position of Caractacus’ final battle.
B Bennett Rowlands, who was born in 1836 at Pwllan Farm, Llandinam, recollects that the land by the church tower was raised well above the adjoining ground, suggesting traces of what might have been a fortified camp. Adding weight to the argument are the ruins of a dwelling on a hilltop on the opposite side of the village –– ‘The Gaer’, (a mutation of the word Caer meaning stronghold or fort).
When the present church was substantially re-built in 1865 by Edward Jones of Llanidloes, he discovered two cartloads of human bones that give rise to the conjecture that they were the result of a bloody battle on that spot at sometime in the past. Whatever the truth of the matter, St Llonio’s is built on a hill in a commanding position overlooking the village and surrounding countryside –– access these days is up a steep slope that often causes parishioners to arrive at the church gasping for breath!
Place and house names in most areas are named after the surrounding landscape. My home, Troedyrhiw, is aptly named as it is tucked into the surrounding landscape with a hill rising above it. The literal translation is foot (troed) of the (yr) hill (rhiw) or bottom of the slope. The houses of Aelybryn are set in a row along the edge (Ael) of a hill (bryn) and in this hilly area there are many houses with ‘Bryn’ in their names.
The Italianate-style mansion, Broneirion, was built on the site of Broneirion Farm for David Davies (Top Sawyer) in 1864. It stands on the side of a steep, wooded valley, with stunning views over the river Severn valley and the village. It is now the home of Girl Guiding Cymru and a Conference Centre.
Finding out the possible meaning of the name Broneirion has proved difficult. ‘Bron’ is breast (of the hill) and it has been suggested that ‘eirion’ may be ‘jewel’ thus making ‘jewel on the breast of the hill’, which would fit well now. However, this theory seems doubtful since Broneirion Farm would probably have been a much more humble dwelling than the present magnificent building. Further down the road are the farms: Lower, Middle and Upper Gwernerin. Does eirion come from erin? Gwern is alder, or place of the alder, eirin in Welsh is plum or berries. Broneirion had an apple orchard on its slopes. Whether this had anything to do with the name is pure conjecture.
One other puzzling name is that of Caetwp Farm. Literally translated Cae is ‘field’ and ‘twp’ is stupid or silly. One wonders how a field could be thought of as stupid. Was it stony, boggy, an awkward shape or did twp mean something different in days gone by? As with all of the above we can only surmise and use what evidence has been found to try to work out the meanings of these Welsh names today.
‘Llandinam A Glimpse of the Past’ Jeremy Pryce, Cambrian Press 2002
‘A History of Llandinam and Parish’ B. Bennett Rowlands 1836 -1915 Published by Jeremy Pryce, The Forge, Llandinam SY17 5BY 2011
‘Llandinam Meandering Byways & Pathways to the Past’ Publisher Jeremy Pryce (as above) 2008.
Ordnance Survey Limited (GB) www. ordnancesurvey.co.uk ‘Glossary of Welsh Origins of Place Names in Britain